12 April 2006

Volcanoes in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco World also has an article about volcanic eruptions near Madina 750 years ago. They've been largely forgotten since everyone seemed to forget everything that happened around the Mongol conquests. Here's what happened:

After the evening prayer, according to one account quoted by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, “a fire burst out in the direction of al-Hijaz; it resembled a vast city with a turreted and battlemented fort, in which men appeared drawing the flame about, as it were, whilst it roared, burned and melted like a sea everything that came in its way. Presently a red and bluish stream, bursting from it, ran close to al-Madinah, and at the same time the city was fanned by a cooling zephyr from the same direction.”

The eruption lasted for 52 days. At its fiery zenith those further afield also witnessed strange sights, with reports of the light of the eruption visible in Makkah and Tayma, six days’ journey from Madinah. Historians relate that the depth of the lava flow was a long spear’s length, around three meters, and that it flowed like a red-blue boiling river, carrying in its way gravels, stones and trees, with thundering noises.
Al-Qastalani asserts that the fire was so fierce that no one could approach within two arrow flights, and that at night “the brilliant light of the volcano made the face of the country as bright as day; and the interior of the harim (the sacred area of the city) was as if the sun shone upon it.” The governor and citizens prayed for the safety of the city, and as the lava inexorably approached, many, including women and children, wept and prayed around the Prophet’s tomb. Then, the lava current turned north, and the city was spared.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this little tidbit about the place I call home. I think an outing to Al Madinah might be in my near future!